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The HSUS and Arizona Law Enforcement Rescue More Than 250 Animals from Alleged Cruelty


The Humane Society of the United States assisted the Apache County Sheriff’s Department in the rescue of approximately 200 dogs, 50 cats, and several chickens, ducks, and pigs who were found living in deplorable conditions in Witch Wells, Ariz. All of the animals were seized by the Apache County Sheriff’s Department.

"Whether this individual started with good intentions, it is now clear that she is unable to properly care for this number of animals, and we want to make sure they get the care and attention they need," said Kari Nienstedt, Arizona state director for The HSUS. "We are grateful to the Apache County Sheriff’s Department and all of the groups that came together to assist in this rescue."

When responders arrived on the scene they found breeds ranging from hound mixes to Labrador retriever mixes housed on the property. A veterinarian on the scene determined that many of the dogs suffered from medical ailments such as skin infections, untreated wounds, and other serious ailments. The cats were living in a filthy trailer on the 40-acre property. The dogs were being housed in feces-ridden outdoor pens and inside several dilapidated structures.

This rescue was set into motion by the Apache County Sheriff’s Department, which received tips about allegedly cruel conditions and neglected animals in need of veterinary care and reached out to The HSUS for assistance with animal handling, transportation, sheltering, and placement of the animals. Law enforcement officials in Colorado have confirmed that the owner of these animals left that state under duress due to concerns related to the health of the animals in her care. The HSUS is relieved that today’s rescue marks the end of a long cycle of potential abuse.

The HSUS called in United Animal Nations to provide animal care and sheltering support. PetSmart Charities® donated food and other much-needed supplies to the rescue efforts. 

"I hope that today’s rescue efforts will send the message that animal neglect will not be tolerated in Apache County," said Sheriff Joseph Dedman of the Apache County Sheriff’s Department. "The Apache County Sheriff’s Department is dedicated to upholding Arizona cruelty laws and coming to the aid of these animals."

All of the animals are being safely removed and transported to an emergency shelter where they will be examined by a team of veterinarians and receive any necessary immediate medical care. The HSUS and UAN will provide the daily care of the animals until they are placed with rescue groups. Representatives from PetSmart Charities’® Phoenix headquarters were also on scene at the emergency shelter to provide assistance.

This rescue was supported by funds from the Pepsi Refresh Project. The HSUS recently won $250,000 dollars in the Pepsi Challenge by getting the most votes for its proposal to rescue animals from cruelty and neglect.

If you are a rescue group in the area that would like to join our Emergency Services Placement Partner Program and potentially take in some of these rescued animals, please fill out the application here.


Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching “HumaneTV” in the App Store.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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